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Kennedy Doesn't Start Again

July 26, 2003|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The new kid was in the lineup Friday. Adam Kennedy was not, again.

With David Eckstein at designated hitter, Manager Mike Scioscia used rookie Alfredo Amezaga at shortstop and Benji Gil at second base. That left Kennedy out, against Oakland left-hander Ted Lilly, leaving him to wonder whether Scioscia ever will entrust him with the everyday job at second base.

"My being able to hit lefties is not an issue," Kennedy said. "It's only an issue to one person. He makes it an issue."

The Angels billed Kennedy as an everyday second baseman when they acquired him in the Jim Edmonds trade. In his first year in Anaheim, in a career-high 598 at-bats, he hit .266 overall and .275 against left-handers.

Since then, Gil has played second base against most left-handers, batting .294 against them in 2001 and .310 last year but .184 this year. Kennedy is on pace for a career-low 407 at-bats this season, but Scioscia said he considers him an everyday player. His career average against left-handers is .254.

"This isn't about thinking Adam can't hit lefties," Scioscia said. "We have every confidence he can. It's a matter of right-handed bats we feel can be very productive."

Kennedy wants to remain with the Angels -- "there's no place I'd rather play than here," he said -- but realizes Amezaga could play shortstop next year, with the team choosing between him and Eckstein at second base.

With each player eligible for arbitration, in which Kennedy's salary could rise from $2.27 million to more than $3 million and Eckstein's from $425,000 to about $2 million, it appears curious that the Angels might make that financial choice without assessing Kennedy against left-handers.

"There's still a lot of time left," General Manager Bill Stoneman said. "I wouldn't jump to those sorts of conclusions right now."

In the ninth inning Friday, Kennedy hit a pinch-hit home run with two out off Keith Foulke, a right-hander.


For now, Scioscia said, Eckstein is the shortstop and Amezaga will flip between second base and shortstop so long as he remains in Anaheim.

Eckstein did not play the field Friday because of what Scioscia said was a sore right forearm -- Alex Rodriguez dropped his knee into the arm Thursday -- and because of what Eckstein said was a sore right shoulder.

Eckstein still receives daily treatment for the shoulder injury, suffered in a collision with left fielder Garret Anderson three weeks ago. He said he anticipates lingering soreness until he can rest the injured joint in the off-season but expects to play shortstop today.

Amezaga, the starting shortstop for the Pacific Coast League in last week's Triple-A All-Star game, hit .347 at Salt Lake. Gil jokingly autographed one of his bats for the kid who might cost him his job next year.


Edison Field now features an ad for the Auto Club behind the left-center field wall, 7 feet wide and 417 feet from home plate. If an Angel player hits a home run that hits the sign, one fan wins a five-day trip to Tahiti.

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